By JOE Catullo
On Sept. 1, the Youngstown State football team upset the Pittsburgh Panthers, 31-17, on their home turf.
On Friday, the women’s basketball team did the same thing, defeating the Panthers, 64-50, at the Petersen Events Center. Coach Bob Boldon said there is no secret recipe for YSU’s success in Pittsburgh this season.
“If there is I’m p----- at whoever didn’t tell me about it,” he said with a laugh.
Boldon’s recipe was simple; protect the paint and nail 3-point field goals. The Penguins failed to do so in the first half, trailing by 12 when the buzzer sounded.
The Penguins (1-0) shot 29.6 percent (22.2 beyond the arc) and coughed up 13 turnovers. The Panthers (0-1) shot 54.2 percent, and Cora McManus made four shots on four attempts in the paint.
“I wish I could say there was a clever halftime adjustment that we came up with,” Boldon said. “As a matter of fact, let’s write that down. We made a great halftime adjustment.”
The Penguins switched to the court’s other side and succeeded, shooting 42.9 percent with eight of their 12 shots beyond the arc. YSU tied the Petersen Events Center for most 3-pointers made in a women’s basketball game with 12.
“I think last week when we talked I said this is probably the best shooting team we’ve ever had from top to bottom,” Boldon said. “It didn’t show in the first half, but in the second half we had a lot of kids step up and shoot with confidence.”
Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato said it was “literally” a tale of two halves.
“They made three 3 with one second or less (on the shot clock),” she said. “Give them credit. They made those three 3, and that’s where you’ve got to strap your boots up.”
Cutting the lead, the Penguins trailed 44-37 with 12:24 remaining in the game. The Panthers did not score again until the 4:45 mark. YSU took its first lead on Brandi Brown’s jumper with 6:28 remaining and never looked back.
“The game’s funny,” Berenato said. “You’ve got to let the game come to you. You can’t go find the game because if you go find the game, you make silly mistakes.”
Brown finished with a team-leading 16 points and game-high 11 rebounds after a five-point first half. She had trouble figuring out after the game what adjustments she made at halftime.
“She was more aggressive in the second half,” Boldon said.
“I was more aggressive in the second half,” Brown replied.
“She got encouragement from her coach to do so,” Boldon said. “She’s an excellent listener.”
“Yes, that’s what happened, thank you,” Brown whispered to Boldon.
Melissa Thompson finished with 13 points and Monica Touvelle collected 12 (four three-pointers).
McManus finished with a career-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Asia Logan finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Friday’s game marked the first time in the Boldon era that the Penguins begin 1-0. Their next game is on Tuesday at Buffalo.
“We won this game because we did things the right way — the way we know we’re supposed to play it,” Brown said. “I think just that type of attitude is what’s going to help us continue to win games. Nothing over the top, just solid basketball.